I-T dept goes after big fish, salaried to escape scrutiny

By : Santosh Tiwari
Last Updated: Fri, Jul 01, 2011 19:00 hrs
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A senior Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) official told Business Standard that scrutiny of the salaried increased their workload without giving any substantial benefit. “Selective cases will be picked up only if there is credible information about tax evasion and big investments by any salaried taxpayer,” he said.

The income tax department picks up around 1 per cent cases for scrutiny.

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The decision means that out of 34 million people in the tax net, 15-17.5 million will escape the regular scrutiny process.

The department has already exempted the salaried with taxable income of up to Rs 5 lakh a year from filing returns this year. CBDT had earlier said cases of salaried with annual income of less than Rs 10 lakh and pensioners would not be picked up for scrutiny this year.

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The decision is aimed at reducing the workload of officials. The department is already struggling to make sense of the huge information flow from annual information returns (AIRs) on high-value transactions. It also has to deal with information from other sources such as the Central Information Branch (CIB).

CBDT’s focus now is to fully use information on high-value transactions to curb tax evasion.

The pieces of information uploaded on the department’s system during 2010-11 by CIB alone increased from 44.5 million in 2009-10 to 145.70 million in 2010-11.

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Similarly, the department got 6,462 AIRs in 2010-11 with details of 4.38 million high-value transactions. The total value of these transactions is Rs 1,53,28,045 crore.

Officials say the figure is huge probably because it includes bank and other transactions where funds are circulated. Also, the same transaction can be reported by different agencies.

It was pointed out at a recent conference of chief commissioners and directors-general of income tax that though the department had been successful in collecting a large volume of data, the payoff in terms of verification of transactions and detection of tax evasion had been below expectations.

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